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Pregnant women find yoga soothing

August 6, 2002

By Jennifer Reeder
Special to the Herald

Pregnant women participate in a yoga class at the Wild Sage Yoga Studio in the Smiley Building on July 30.

Before Eileen Musicís prenatal yoga class, several women in varying stages of pregnancy chat with one another as a new student enters the room. She collects a yoga mat, an Indian blanket and a foam block, settles onto the floor as the others have, and asks the woman next to her, "What am I in for?"

"Complete relaxation," the woman answers with a smile.

For five years, pregnant women in the Four Corners area have been practicing yoga with Music, 59.

"The No. 1 benefit is learning how to relax," Music said. "Let the (birth) process take its course and get yourself out of the way."

Music guides her students in breathing techniques to relax their bodies and increase their oxygen intake, and in modified yoga poses to relieve discomfort associated with pregnancy, with particular emphasis on the back. The babyís weight pulls the spine forward, causing pregnant women to arch their backs, causing pain, Music said.

Between breathing exercises and guided meditation the students practice a variety of yoga poses altered to fit their needs. For example, they can lean on chairs for support during traditional yoga poses like "downward-facing dog," rather than extending to the floor.

Eileen Music leads a yoga class for pregnant women at the Wild Sage Yoga Studio in the Smiley Building on July 30.

Music shares knowledge gained during her own three pregnancies and encourages class members to share experiences and ideas. She fosters a supportive atmosphere by asking students to introduce themselves at the start of each class by giving their first name, medical practitioner and due date.

"They build up quite a friendship while theyíre in there," Music said.

The camaraderie that develops in the classes was a favorite aspect for former student Andrea Avantaggio. Avantaggio, who owns Mariaís Bookstore, attended Musicís prenatal yoga class during both of her pregnancies. She said itís great to be with other pregnant women, "to laugh about the things youíve been crying about all week."

"Itís a wonderful thing," Avantaggio said.

Another former student, Sarah Law, district attorney for the 6th Judicial District, also enjoyed discussing pregnancy issues in the hour-and-a-half classes. She said Musicís "wealth of experience" helped her learn a lot in preparation for her sonís birth. She said she especially liked that Music reminded her students to share information but also to listen to their bodies and remember "whatís right for you is whatís right for you."

"It was a great experience," Law said. "Sheís just wonderful."

Music estimates that there are "probably over 300 moms and babies walking around town now" who have been in her class Ė and she feels a bond with all of them.

"For me as a ĎGrandma,í I have tons of grandchildren walking around. Itís fun!" Music said.

Music said she is fortunate to live in a place with such a "supportive birth community" Ė including Mercy Medical Center staff, Southwest Midwives, various childbirthing classes and doulas.

"I really feel like Iím part of a team," Music said.

Because Music likes to keep her classes small by limiting them to 15 people, there is usually a waiting list, she said. It also means her work is not as lucrative as traditional yoga classes, which can accommodate up to 30 students. Not that sheís uptight about money: Students put $10 per class in an aluminum can that Music leaves on the floor, trusting them to make their own change. She also works out arrangements with women having financial difficulties.

Ultimately, the prenatal classes are Musicís labor of love.

"Itís a passion of mine and I love doing it," Music said. "All the women are really special."

For more information, call Wild Sage Yoga Studio at 259-6445.

Contents copyright © 2002, the Durango Herald. All rights reserved.
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